Book picks similar to
On Kings by David Graeber


anthropology
history
non-fiction
politics

The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View


Ellen Meiksins Wood - 1999
    Rather, it is a late and localized product of very specific historical conditions, which required great transformations in social relations and in the human interaction with nature.This new edition is substantially revised and expanded, with extensive new material on imperialism, anti-Eurocentric history, capitalism and the nation-state, and the differences between capitalism and non-capitalist commerce. The author traces links between the origin of capitalism and contemporary conditions such as globalization, ecological degradation, and the current agricultural crisis.

Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History


Frederick Cooper - 2005
    Rather than portray the past two centuries as the inevitable movement from empire to nation-state, Cooper places nationalism within a much wider range of imperial and diasporic imaginations, of rulers and ruled alike, well into the twentieth century. He addresses both the insights and the blind spots of colonial studies in an effort to get beyond the tendency in the field to focus on a generic colonialism located sometime between 1492 and the 1960s and somewhere in the "West." Broad-ranging, cogently argued, and with a historical focus that moves from Africa to South Asia to Europe, these essays, most published here for the first time, propose a fuller engagement in the give-and-take of history, not least in the ways in which concepts usually attributed to Western universalism—including citizenship and equality—were defined and reconfigured by political mobilizations in colonial contexts.

The Nation & Its Fragments: Colonial & Postcolonial Histories


Partha Chatterjee - 1993
    Arguing that scholars have been mistaken in equating political nationalism with nationalism as such, he shows how anticolonialist nationalists produced their own domain of sovereignty within colonial society well before beginning their political battle with the imperial power. These nationalists divided their culture into material and spiritual domains, and staked an early claim to the spiritual sphere, represented by religion, caste, women and the family, and peasants. Chatterjee shows how middle-class elites first imagined the nation into being in this spiritual dimension and then readied it for political contest, all the while normalizing the aspirations of the various marginal groups that typify the spiritual sphere.While Chatterjee's specific examples are drawn from Indian sources, with a copious use of Bengali language materials, the book is a contribution to the general theoretical discussion on nationalism and the modern state. Examining the paradoxes involved with creating first a uniquely non-Western nation in the spiritual sphere and then a universalist nation-state in the material sphere, the author finds that the search for a postcolonial modernity is necessarily linked with past struggles against modernity.

Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies: New Zealand and the United States


David Hackett Fischer - 2012
    Both have democratic polities, mixed-enterprise economies, individuated societies, pluralist cultures, and a deep concern for human rights and the rule of law. But all of these elements take different forms, because constellations of value are far apart. The dream of living free is America's Polaris; fairness and natural justice are New Zealand's Southern Cross.Fischer asks why these similar countries went different ways. Both were founded by English-speaking colonists, but at different times and with disparate purposes. They lived in the first and second British Empires, which operated in very different ways. Indians and Maori were important agents of change, but to different ends. On the American frontier and in New Zealand's Bush, material possibilities and moral choices were not the same. Fischer takes the same comparative approach to parallel processes of nation-building and immigration, women's rights and racial wrongs, reform causes and conservative responses, war-fighting and peace-making, and global engagement in our own time--with similar results.On another level, this book expands Fischer's past work on liberty and freedom. It is the first book to be published on the history of fairness. And it also poses new questions in the old tradition of history and moral philosophy. Is it possible to be both fair and free? In a vast array of evidence, Fischer finds that the strengths of these great values are needed to correct their weaknesses. As many societies seek to become more open--never twice in the same way, an understanding of our differences is the only path to peace.

History and Social Theory


Peter Burke - 2007
    * The text has been completely revised to take into account developments of the past 14 years, since History and Social Theory was first published. * Topics which have been added and that are now treated in depth include globalization, postcolonialism and social capital.

Hybrid Cultures: Strategies for Entering and Leaving Modernity


Néstor García Canclini - 1992
    This now-classic work features a new introduction in which Nestor Garcia Canclini calls for a cultural politics to contain the damaging effects of globalization and responds to relevant theoretical developments over the past decade.Garcia Canclini questions whether Latin America can compete in a global marketplace without losing its cultural identity. He moves with ease from the ideas of Gramsci and Foucault to economic analysis, from appraisals of the exchanges between Octavio Paz and Jorge Luis Borges to Chicano film and grafitti. Hybrid Cultures at once clarifies the development of democratic institutions in Latin America and reveals that the most destructive ideological trends are still going strong.

Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence


G.A. Cohen - 1978
    Cohen's masterful application of advanced philosophical techniques in an uncompromising defense of historical materialism commanded widespread admiration. In the ensuing twenty years, the book has served as a flagship of a powerful intellectual movement--analytical Marxism. In this expanded edition, Cohen offers his own account of the history, and the further promise, of analytical Marxism. He also expresses reservations about traditional historical materialism, in the light of which he reconstructs the theory, and he studies the implications for historical materialism of the demise of the Soviet Union.

The Selfish Capitalist: Origins of Affluenza


Oliver James - 2008
    James points out that, since the Seventies, the rich have become much, much richer, yet the average person’s wage has not increased at all. He provides a wealth of evidence to show that we have become more miserable and distressed during this time, and suggests that this is a direct consequence of Thatcherite/Blairite “Selfish Capitalism,” whose most significant act has been to rob the poor to give to the rich.The Selfish Capitalist is a rallying cry to reduce levels of distress by adopting a form of unselfish capitalism. It is a hard-hitting and thought-provoking work that tells us why our personal well-being must take precedence over the wealth of a tiny minority if we are to cure ourselves of this disease.From the Trade Paperback edition.

Introducing Political Philosophy: A Graphic Guide (Introducing...)


Dave Robinson - 2003
    Philosophers have always asked fundamental and disturbing questions about politics. Plato and Aristotle debated the merits of democracy. The origins of society, the state and government authority were issues addressed by Hobbes, Rousseau, Hegel, Marx and many other philosophers. Introducing Political Philosophy explains the central concepts of this intriguing branch of philosophy and presents the major political theorists from Plato to Foucault. How did governments get started? Why should they be obeyed? Could we live without them? How much power should they have? Is freedom a right? Which is the best form of government? In the wake of consumerism and postmodernism, our need for a better grasp of political ideas is greater than ever. Dave Robinson's account of this complex subject is always clear, informative and accompanied by the entertainingly inventive illustrations of Judy Groves.

Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object


Johannes Fabian - 1983
    A new foreword by Matti Bunzl brings the influence of Fabian's study up to the present.Time and the Other is a critique of the notions that anthropologists are "here and now," their objects of study are "there and then," and that the "other" exists in a time not contemporary with our own.

People without Government: An Anthropology of Anarchy


Harold Barclay - 1996
    In fact it is a very common form of political organisation and one which has characterised much of the human past. People Without Government describes briefly the anarchic political structures of a number of these societies. True they are mainly small-scale hunting, gathering and horticultural groups. However, the social organisation of certain large populations with complex relations is also sometimes anarchic. Thus anarchy applies to a broad spectrum of different kinds of societies. This book seeks to show what anarchy has been like in practice. Special attention is paid to the techniques of leadership, maintaining order and decision-making. The dynamic interplay between freedom and authority is considered, particularly the apparent tendency of anarchic polities to degenerate into states with government and for organisations to become oligarchies, and it is concluded that liberty and individuality are at best very tenuous and fleeting entities. There can be no relenting in the struggle for freedom.

The Colonial Present: Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq


Derek Gregory - 2004
     Argues the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11 activated a series of political and cultural responses that were profoundly colonial in nature. The first analysis of the "war on terror" to connect events in Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq. Traces the connections between geopolitics and the lives of ordinary people. Richly illustrated and packed with empirical detail.

Nation and Narration


Homi K. BhabhaGeoffrey Bennington - 1990
    From Gillian Beer's reading of Virginia Woolf, Rachel Bowlby's cultural history of Uncle Tom's Cabin and Francis Mulhern's study of Leaviste's 'English ethics'; to Doris Sommer's study of the 'magical realism' of Latin American fiction and Sneja Gunew's analysis of Australian writing, Nation and Narration is a celebration of the fact that English is no longer an English national consciousness, which is not nationalist, but is the only thing that will give us an international dimension.

Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study


Orlando Patterson - 1982
    In a work of prodigious scholarship and enormous breadth, which draws on the tribal, ancient, premodern, and modern worlds, Orlando Patterson discusses the internal dynamics of slavery in sixty-six societies over time. These include Greece and Rome, medieval Europe, China, Korea, the Islamic kingdoms, Africa, the Caribbean islands, and the American South. Slavery is shown to be a parasitic relationship between master and slave, invariably entailing the violent domination of a natally alienated, or socially dead, person. The phenomenon of slavery as an institution, the author argues, is a single process of recruitment, incorporation on the margin of society, and eventual manumission or death.Distinctions abound in this work. Beyond the reconceptualization of the basic master-slave relationship and the redefinition of slavery as an institution with universal attributes, Patterson rejects the legalistic Roman concept that places the "slave as property" at the core of the system. Rather, he emphasizes the centrality of sociological, symbolic, and ideological factors interwoven within the slavery system. Along the whole continuum of slavery, the cultural milieu is stressed, as well as political and psychological elements. Materialistic and racial factors are deemphasized. The author is thus able, for example, to deal with "elite" slaves, or even eunuchs, in the same framework of understanding as fieldhands; to uncover previously hidden principles of inheritance of slave and free status; and to show the tight relationship between slavery and freedom.Interdisciplinary in its methods, this study employs qualitative and quantitative techniques from all the social sciences to demonstrate the universality of structures and processes in slave systems and to reveal cross-cultural variations in the slave trade and in slavery, in rates of manumission, and in the status of freedmen. "Slavery and Social Death" lays out a vast new corpus of research that underpins an original and provocative thesis.

Return of the Strong Gods: Nationalism, Populism, and the Future of the West


R.R. Reno - 2019
    It is incisively written and full of modern observations. Mr. Reno explains, better than any book I can remember, the present-day progressive's paranoid fear of fascism and neurotic determination to ferret out racism where none exists." —The Wall Street Journal After the staggering slaughter of back-to-back world wars, the West embraced the ideal of the “open society.” The promise: By liberating ourselves from the old attachments to nation, clan, and religion that had fueled centuries of violence, we could build a prosperous world without borders, freed from dogmas and managed by experts. But the populism and nationalism that are upending politics in America and Europe are a sign that after three generations, the postwar consensus is breaking down. With compelling insight, R. R. Reno argues that we are witnessing the return of the “strong gods”—the powerful loyalties that bind men to their homeland and to one another. Reacting to the calamitous first half of the twentieth century, our political, cultural, and financial elites promoted open borders, open markets, and open minds. But this never-ending project of openness has hardened into a set of anti-dogmatic dogmas which destroy the social solidarity rooted in family, faith, and nation. While they worry about the return of fascism, our societies are dissolving. But man will not tolerate social dissolution indefinitely. He longs to be part of a “we”—the fruit of shared loves—which gives his life meaning. The strong gods will return, Reno warns, in one form or another. Our task is to attend to those that, appealing to our reason as well as our hearts, inspire the best of our traditions. Otherwise, we shall invite the darker gods whose return our open society was intended to forestall.